Thursday, October 26, 2006

Romans 1:28-31

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

Since they did not think it was worthy to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them a depraved mind, and they did what ought not to be done. Here again, in different terms, Paul is saying that when you exchange the truth of God for a lie, He will give you over to your desires. Why state it again in different terms? It confirms that God is just and again and again and again that we need the gospel, we need redemption. Everyone is under the wrath of God apart from the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here, they knew the truth, but the truth wasn’t worthy. The truth of God was rejected, unworthy. How contrary to Scripture that false thinking is! The Lord alone is worthy! Now last time, we talked of the depravity of the heart. Here we have the depravity of the mind. It’s just a further acknowledgement that all of man in his totality is depraved. The mind becomes so defective in regards to morality that it doesn’t have the framework to recognize evil for what it really is. Unbelievers don’t get why Christians think certain behavior is wrong. They treated knowledge of God as worthless, and so their minds are depraved. They’ve lost the ability to grasp morality—by their own choice. They have chosen to deny the truth of God and His Word, and one penalty is a depraved mind. There is no inclination to good among mankind; even civil good is done with wrong motives. Do you agree or disagree? Remember Hebrews 11:6 “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” And Romans 14:23 “Everything that does not come from faith is sin.” Matthew 19:17 “There is only One who is good.” James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above.” Matthew 7:17 “Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” Is mankind like good or bad trees?

Paul is helping us to understand the nature of the problem. It has to do with our desires. It has to do with our desires, it has to do with passions, and it has to do with our mind or with our heart, the very core of our being. When he speaks of a depraved mind, he’s speaking of the very seat of our thinking, our willing, our feeling and our actions. And he’s saying, at the very core of us, we are corrupt apart from the grace of God. The mind that is not God-centered, not God-honoring, will become a slave to its own carnal desires. Paul is saying when we see that happen, we are seeing the judgment of God against a mind, against a heart, against the person who wants to have nothing to do with the worship and honor and adoration of God in his heart of hearts. External solutions will never ultimately work. We can constrain sin with external solutions, but we can’t get at the interior problem. Only the grace of God can. The worst penalty for sin is to love sin. And Paul says here that God is giving these people over to the love of their own sin in their corrupt minds. God’s judgment is absolutely perfect. It’s absolutely just. He gives them exactly what they want and what they deserve. And that was us until we were changed, until our hearts were made new and our minds conformed. So praise God for making us His own!

Can you realistically say: The depth of our sin does not just deserve divine judgment, it is divine judgment? That is what Paul says. John Piper says, “You can’t really understand America (or any other country) today without this revealed truth. Even if we tried to boast over God that at least we have our self-determination in rebelling against God, God would answer: ‘Do you think so? Think again.’”

21 Signs of God’s wrath on man: wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity, envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, gossip, slander, hatred of God, insolence, arrogance, boasting, mischievousness, disobedience to parents, senselessness, faithlessness, heartlessness, ruthlessness. Instead of looking at each of these words individually, which we could do, let’s see what Paul is trying to do by listing all of these words. Paul is suggesting, infallibly and inerrantly by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that a suppression of the truth of God leads to sinful behavior. He lists these sins to show that every type of sin and every kind of evil comes from failing to know God and love Him above all things. Notice all of these sins have to do with the inner-man. The corruption that Paul is getting at is not caused by societal problems or by deficiency in the legal code or in the social program of the nation. It’s a heart problem. Nothing can get at this heart problem but the power of God which is able to work in the heart.

Piper says, “If America has the highest murder rate in the western world, it has to do with God. If our executives are greedy, it has to do with God. If our politicians are deceitful, it has to do with God. If we gossip about each other behind the back, it has to do with God. If our talk show hosts are insolent and boastful, it has to do with God. If our children are disobedient to parents, it has to do with God. If we are untrustworthy and don't keep our marriage vows, it has to do with God. If we are blind to obvious wrongs and are unloving and unmerciful, it has to do with God. Sin and evil exist, because we deny Who He really is and what He’s really said and done.” How do we combat this list of evils and sins? We need help. We cannot do it. But God can. He can and He has reversed this decaying process, this slippery slope that leads to hell. He has revealed not only His wrath, which we’ve seen, but also His righteousness. The gospel can combat these evils, and it has accomplished a great victory in every believer. Praise God!

Romans 6:17 “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed (NASB).” The word “committed” or perhaps “entrusted” in your translation, is the same word in Greek for “handed over” in the passage today. Notice that Paul thanks God for what you have done. You were “handed over” or “committed” or “entrusted” by God to obedience in faith. That’s why salvation and justification and sanctification and glorification have nothing to do with you. It’s all of God, and that’s why He gets the glory, and not you. Psalm 66:5 “Come and see what God has done, how awesome His works in man’s behalf!” 1 Corinthians 12:6 “There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.” Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Philippians 2:13 “For it is God Who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.” That’s why we thank God. He has taken us out of darkness and brought us into the light. (See 1 Peter 2:9; Ephesians 5:8; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Acts 26:17-18; John 12:46)

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